GenMassachusetts-L ArchivesArchiver > GenMassachusetts > 1998-12 > 0913744047
From: Matika <>
Subject: [Fwd: Tombstones Meanings]
Date: Tue, 15 Dec 1998 12:47:27 -0500
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Hi all listers...
I found this on another one of my lists and thought some of you may find
this of interst., I know I did, Would like to thank Norma for posting
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From: "John Cramer" <>
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"Genealogy for Ohio." <>,
Date: Tue, 15 Dec 1998 11:45:27 -0500
Subject: Tombstones Meanings
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Norma j Miller SAID:
Subject: Tombstones Meanings
I don't remember where I found these or maybe you all have already seen
Norma j Miller
WE deal so often with abbreviation and scrawled handwriting that we must
decipher. We should also understand some of the symbols we encounter when
go graveyard hopping. They may no longer have meaning to us; but to many
our ancestors, the symbols chosen for their graves and vaults were once not
simply ornamental in nature.
.THE early Christians had to develop a system of signs in order to guide one
another to secret meeting places for worship. You know, the early church
members were called "atheists," and not because they did not worship a God.
It was because they ONLY worshipped ONE god, not a plurality of gods, so
were atheists-without gods.
.ONE of the symbols they chose, a common enough symbol and apparently
innocuous, was the anchor, within a Christian context, was really a
cross, and carries with it the connotation that Christ is the anchor that
prevents the Christian from drifting loose and being lost forever.
AN anchor is a more modern (post-medevil times) context may make reference
a person having been a Christian or simply as a sailor. An anchor with a
broken chain consistently symbolizes the breaking of the soul from
.A perpetual favorite, of course, is the angel. The angel in latter days
symbolizes the image that parents want to hold of a dead child-now an
cherub as depicted in Renaissance art.
.A crescent is commonly used to show that a person was a follower of the
Islamic faith. The use of this symbol is also applied by some, but not
.THE Christian views the cross as the instrument of death that led to the
resurrection of Jesus Christ. The cross was the only instrument, not the
representation of the Truth who died in the place of sinners. It has been
popular through the centuries for some faiths. However, the symbol of the
cross may also represent different nationalist divisions, such as a
between the Western Church and the Eastern Church. THE Japanese also used
cross, but for them it represented the four quarters of the earth, although
sometimes it meant the four compass directions. Crowns commonly refer
to a heavenly reward awaiting the dead one, or perhaps worldly achievements
.SOMEWHERE between the Middle Ages and the 17th or 18th century, having a
on your gravestone or marker or vault came to mean two different things.
Placed most commonly at the feet of medieval women, they signified loyalty
inferiority in the chivalric order. More modern applications came to
that the one buried there was worthy of love and affection or, at least,
loyalty. Again, as another non sequitur, have you wondered why you refer
your feet as dogs, as in "my dogs are really barking," or "my dogs are
me? In the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries, the most handsome, most
expensive, and most desirable shower were those made from dogskin-and
.A small bird that often appears in both Christian and Jewish cemeteries is
dove, symbol most Christians as the Holy Spirit, and to the Jews as a
of peace. Europeans used to see the dove also as a symbol of purity and
spiritually because of its white coloring.
.WHILE it is rare to see one, DRAGONS on their gravestones. When they
Saint George rides out to kill them. This symbolizes triumph over sin.
when one triumphs over Sin, one has won relief from the most stinging
qualities of Death: the punishments for our sins.
.THE BLEEDING HEART, a rather graphic image somewhat unique to Roman
Catholicism, is a depiction of a tomb and blood-dripping cardiac muscle,
wrested from the bosom of the Christ, and commonly surrounded by a crown of
thorns. The heart of Christ represents Jesus' suffering for the sins of
mankind, and marks that grave as that of a Catholic.
.THE hourglass, a symbol for time from ancient days. Hourglasses are
depicted with the lower portion full of sand, and the top empty-the glass
run out of time. Frequently, hourglasses will be shown with wings, as in
flight. A glass in flight may refer to wither the fleeting nature of life
("Tempest fugit"), or it may be somewhat oblique reference to the
resurrection. I prefer the earthly reference as more likely. Perhaps one
when science believes it can raise the dead and bring them to life again,
will start using digital watches as symbols on our gravestones- a new
a new life.
.WHEN you see a KEY on a marker, look for Greek letters. If no Greek
appear, the buried one was NOT Phi Beta Kappa. Instead, the key or keys
represent the keys to the Kingdom of God (and that is how you should
it if you see a key or keys in the hand of an angel or a person on a
or it may indicate spiritual revelation or knowledge.
.More often than not, a LAMB will mark the grave of a child. Lambs have
historically stood for innocence, and for being a member of the flock of
.When you see a LAMP-usually one that looks as you might think Aladdin's
looked-the object of that symbol is to let you know that either here was
with knowledge, or who attained the immortality through the Holy Spirit.
.SCYTHES and SICKLES represent the wheat that will be separated from the
the fields that are white unto harvest, and the way in which death levels
of us. It reminds us all that the harvest-whether the harvest is that
taking life, or the harvest of Christ taking his people to be separated
the lost-is imminent. And it tells us that death comes swiftly and
.IS it a RISING SUN or a SETTING SUN? Is this a case of "po-ta-to" or
to"? Well, a setting sun is the passing from life to death, and a rising
is the New Birth of Christianity, or the new day dawning in hope of heaven
reincarnation. Trouble is, how do you know which one is depicted on the
For many, the use of a sun is an application of the Scripture which tells
Christian that the "Su(o)n of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His
.AN empty or a sraped URN may make reference to the departure of the soul
spirit from the body. (Note that theologically, humans have both a spirit
a soul...Animals have only one of the two.) Since URNS have historically
the ashes of the dead, it seems likely that URNS and the Shrouds that often
accompany then in gravestone are reflect rather the fact and perhaps the
finality of death.
From: CCS-Genealogy Sig-Email List-jc
FYI- Delete if unwanted or forward to other interested people.
To a genealogist, everything is relative.
URL is: http://www.freeyellow.com/members2/jwcramer/
Ohio & PA ancestors: CRAMER, SCHMITT, SMITH, HIPPLE, TRICK,
BULCHER, FLOYD, LOY, MARTIN, PEQUIGNOT, WASHINGTON.
Also Fisher, Riddle, Snyder, Wampler, Wantz/Wants
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